Jesuit Father John “Jack” E. Dister died on Dec. 12, 2018, at Colombiere Center in Clarkston, Michigan. He was 87 years old.
Fr. Dister was born on March 18, 1931, in Cleveland. He entered the Society of Jesus on July 24, 1949, at Milford Novitiate in Milford, Ohio. He was ordained on July 26, 1962, in Innsbruck, Austria. He took final vows on August 15, 1967, in London.
Fr. Dister graduated from St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland before he entered the Society. While in the Society, he earned a bachelor’s degree in Latin (1954) and a master’s degree in philosophy (1959) from Loyola University Chicago. He earned licentiate degrees in philosophy (1956) from West Baden College in West Baden, Indiana, and in theology (1963) from Jesuitenkolleg in Innsbruck, Austria. Fr. Dister earned a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Bristol, United Kingdom (1969). During regency Fr. Dister taught Latin and speech at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati.
After doctoral studies, Fr. Dister was a professor of philosophy at John Carroll University (1966-1971). After a short sabbatical in 1971, he spent five years teaching religious studies and working in campus ministry at Case Western Reserve (1972-1977) before teaching philosophy at the University of Detroit [Mercy]. Fr. Dister took a break from teaching in 1979 to become the superior of Colombiere Center. When he finished his term as superior—and a year-long sabbatical—Fr. Dister returned to John Carroll University where he taught, did admissions work, and was the assistant to the president for university mission (1985-1996).
At the age of 65, Fr. Dister said goodbye to the teaching profession and began to explore other ministries. He worked in the Detroit Province office as the provincial assistant for pastoral and social ministry (1996-2005) and director of the Ignatian Lay Volunteer Corps (2000-2005). Fr. Dister then spent the next eight years doing retreat work at Loyola of the Lakes, Clinton, Ohio (2005-2006); St. Therese Retreat Center, Columbus (2006-2008); and Jesuit Retreat Center, Cleveland (2009-2013). In addition, he was also the assistant chaplain for the Cleveland Clinic (2009-2013). Fr. Dister moved to Colombiere Center in 2013, missioned to pray for the Church and the Society.